If you want to run from God, you will always find a boat headed in the opposite direction.
He was looking for any way he could find to get out of carrying out the work that God had instructed him to do. He had the luxury of proclaiming good news to people in the past, but this request would send him into the epicenter of the most treacherous people on the face of the Earth...Jonah was looking for a way out and he found what he was looking for.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to lead a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and it was an experience that continues to shape the way that I see the world. On several of the evenings of that trip, we would share ways that we saw God throughout the day. Unanimously, it was the opportunity of seeing the Dominicans and their happiness and joy in the midst of having almost no material luxuries to speak of. It was perspective shifting and worldview expanding. They were looking for joy and they found it.
When I first started as a leader in the church, I remember being caught off guard when I heard a preacher say to some people who were visiting our church, "If you ever find the perfect church, don't join it because you'll ruin it." I understand his point, but the way he phrased it really got me thinking. Most people think that the church they currently attend is a great church, and probably the best church for them...otherwise they wouldn't be attending. Maybe we know that there are flaws because we realize that the church is just a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. So, we look for the best in one another. And when we do, we will find it.
As a minister, the boat headed in the opposite direction of where God wants me to go is usually named: pessimism, cynicism and bitterness. When I recognize these attitudes at work within me, I need to realize that I'm not pursuing God, I'm pursuing my own wisdom. If I'm looking for something to go wrong...I'll find it. If I'm looking for someone to let me down...I'll find it. If I'm expecting something to not turn out well...I'll find ways that it won't.
Recently, I decided to put a stop to the way I was blaming others, most of the time in my own mind. Instead, I began seeking opportunities to encourage the best qualities that I noticed in them. Two interesting things happened: First, I began to find more and more things to encourage about them. Two, my mind was forming new pathways of thought toward other people and it was changing me from the inside out. Not surprising that God would bless us for seeing other people as the valuable, precious creations that they are. That's how I've come to know that my boat is heading in the right direction.